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STOIC POETRY | Away from the fire

Updated: Sep 4, 2021

October 16, 2019

Dear Eric,

To the best of my knowledge, you never once went truly alone into the wild. But that's no surprise, as few ever do. For Going Alone is something our species rarely does. No wonder perhaps we then take ourselves so seriously... No wonder we sometimes sense warmth radiating from the cold.

There are campfires All across this plain Cold lights, warm with life Inviting living Friendship and love Away from the darkness beyond

I understand, the darkness beyond is indeed a terrible thing. There is nothing very welcoming in deep night. There are few happy stories to bring back from very pure solitude; only close calls with danger and death and fearful tales of strange sights and noises and ideas. So, why then would anyone ever step even once away from the ring of fire that is the centerpiece of their living? Why leave the others behind for any reason other than to briefly move away in order to relieve oneself behind a bush, wondering while so doing if there are eyes in the dark looking back, and considering briefly our vulnerability out there away from the crowd. So, we then dart back quickly when our work is done and take our place again huddled close to the others with our hands held near the flame. Shouldn't this fire be warmer? Why does the flame somehow produce more light than heat? Where's the warmth? Where is the REAL warmth?

But there's talk around the fire, a seemingly incessant warm chatter. There's the heat,'s the energy of noisy show and attention and the draw of distraction and trust and deceit and success and failure and the whole lot and production of our living that burns hot. All of this is the source of a sort of warmth we mistake for the fire, which still burns less warm than natural heat should. For should not nature offer us more? Shouldn't the natural world speak plainly of all the dear things we maintain as true: friendship, community, love, peace and forever? How can the flame which we, and our predecessors, kindled and maintain be as cold as the nighttime darkness beyond? This cannot be. I won't have it. I simply will not. I maintain otherwise and sustain my claim with the posture and attitude of certainty. And I back up my position with the substance of faith.

"Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." Hebrews 11:1

I don't understand those other things... Those things you keep bringing up about the seeming cold within the flame. Won't you stop talking of that, please. Let's get on with the community discussion. Let's hear the day's news? And what about those Dodgers! Never mind about the flame... What of it? I told you already, I have faith. I don't need any better answer than that. Huddle close to me won't you. I'm cold.


My name is Kurt Bell.

You can learn more about The Good Life in my book Going Alone.

Be safe... But not too safe.

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